Repurposing molecular imaging and sensing for cancer image-guided surgery

Suman B. Mondal, Christine M. O'Brien, Kevin Bishop, Ryan C. Fields, Julie A. Margenthaler, Samuel Achilefu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Gone are the days when medical imaging was used primarily to visualize anatomic structures. The emergence of molecular imaging (MI), championed by radiolabeled 18F-FDG PET, has expanded the information content derived from imaging to include pathophysiologic and molecular processes. Cancer imaging, in particular, has leveraged advances in MI agents and technology to improve the accuracy of tumor detection, interrogate tumor heterogeneity, monitor treatment response, focus surgical resection, and enable image-guided biopsy. Surgeons are actively latching on to the incredible opportunities provided by medical imaging for preoperative planning, intraoperative guidance, and postoperative monitoring. From label-free techniques to enabling cancer-selective imaging agents, imageguided surgery provides surgical oncologists and interventional radiologists both macroscopic and microscopic views of cancer in the operating room. This review highlights the current state of MI and sensing approaches available for surgical guidance. Salient features of nuclear, optical, and multimodal approaches will be discussed, including their strengths, limitations, and clinical applications. To address the increasing complexity and diversity of methods available today, this review provides a framework to identify a contrast mechanism, suitable modality, and device. Emerging low-cost, portable, and user-friendly imaging systems make the case for adopting some of these technologies as the global standard of care in surgical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1122
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Cerenkov luminescence
  • Fluorescence imaging
  • Molecular image-guided surgery
  • Multimodal imaging
  • Nuclear imaging
  • Research methods


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